And now for the hard part
Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro and his Lady Eagles needed to battle their way to the top of UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball.
And he warned his wards that things would only get tougher.
Stunned in the opening set by a young National University trying to pull off another statement win, Ateneo needed to dig deep to fetch a 23-25, 25-17, 25-23, 25-17 triumph Saturday at Filoil Flying V Centre and keep its winning streak intact.
“The first round was really a tough one for us,” said Almadro. “We really learned a lot from here but I’m telling my players that going into the second round, it will not be any easier.”
The Lady Bulldogs showed just how much opponents will be clawing at the Lady Eagles. Given little hope against a team that entered the game on a five-game win streak, NU drew inspiration from a gutsy victory over University of the Philippines to carve out an opening set win.
“They really showed us that despite being rookies, they can compete against veterans and all of the teams in the UAAP actually,” said skipper Bea de Leon, who finished with 13 points, behind Maddie Madayag’s team-high 17. “That was one of the toughest games we played actually for me.”
“It was kind of a wake-up call in the first set seeing how they played and they did a really good job,” said Kat Tolentino, who added 10 points, the same output of Ponggay Gaston. “I think it’s their mentality that they have nothing to lose. If they win, then it’s a good boost for them. But if they lose they’re rookies so it’s not as much pressure [as it is] for us.”
And if Ateneo needs any reminder just how tough the second round will be, La Salle provided it in the second game as the Lady Spikers stayed at the heels of the Lady Eagles with a 25-15, 25-19, 26-24 victory over last year’s Finals foe Far Eastern U.
It was the fifth win in seven games for La Salle, which kept Ateneo’s 6-1 record within reach.
“We have to put more effort and more sacrifices this second round. Teams will want to beat us, they will play even better. So hopefully the positivity and energy will manifest in the second round,” said Almadro.
“I think the second round will definitely be harder because of the adjustments of the teams,” added Tolentino.
FEU was in it in the third set, overhauling a six-point deficit to take set point at 24-23. But Tin Tiamzon found her range and La Salle’s vaunted blocking clicked just in time so that by the time Des Cheng shuttled in the winning point, the Lady Spikers deflated the Lady Tamaraws’ fight. —WITH A REPORT FROM BONG LOZADA, INQUIRER.NET
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